Smart Policy: Using the Science of Early Brain Development to Inform Public Sector Programs for Children and Families
Thank you to everyone who attended.
Held Friday, November 11, 2011
Dr. Phil Fisher, Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) and the University of Oregon
Dr. Philip Fisher is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon and a Senior Scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). He is also Science Director for the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs, based at Harvard University. Dr. Fisher’s work on children in foster care and the child welfare system bridges basic brain research, preventive interventions and the dissemination of evidence-based practice in community settings.
Key takeaways from the lecture include the following:
The science of early brain development allows us to understand the needs of child welfare system children (and other high-risk children) in ways never before possible.
The news isn’t all bad! Some children show remarkable resiliency, and not all children in the child welfare system show toxic stress effects. For example, only 30 percent show dysregulated daily stress hormone levels. In addition, the science of early brain development allows us to get much better at predicting who will show toxic stress effects.
We can be increasingly precise, not only about who is at risk, but also about how to help. Interventions such as the Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care program, Kids in Transition to School (KITS) intervention and the Filming Interactions to Nurture Development (FIND) include specific “learn as you go” evidence-based parenting techniques and parenting support. These programs are effective and were developed with an emphasis on scalability. Thus, there is a high potential that they can be easily implemented.
Preventing toxic stress and mitigating its effects in child welfare system children is economically advantageous and even shows immediate cost savings.
Multilevel involvement and commitment of executive, legislative and judicial branches, child welfare, community agencies, researchers and families is critically important if we are to realize the full potential that exists.